Five steps for getting back into shape in a week

Getting in shape (and staying fit) is something we all struggle with every day. It's a topic we hear about over and over again after the holidays, and there are countless opinions on how to do it in the easiest, fastest way possible. Although I openly detest cardiovascular exercise and am guilty of Googling "How to lose 5 pounds in a week," I don't think it's crazy to think that getting into shape should be easier and faster.

A long time ago, my mom told me to buy expensive pants so that I wouldn't allow myself to go up a size. Might be a strange strategy, but it works well for me as a gauge. Instead of using a scale, I trust that when my pants are getting tighter, it's time to dial back. Post-holidays, my favorite leather leggings were getting a little uncomfortable, so I employed my go-to five step plan for getting back to normal. It's something that works for me, stitched together with tips from nutrition books, my personal trainer, and trial and error:

#1 Eat only between 1 and 8 p.m.

There are thousands of nutritionists who may disagree, but this really works for me. Technically, it's called

intermittent fasting

. The core principle is that when your body isn't digesting and burning food for energy, it's in a fasted state - this means that your body taps into fat stores for energy that are inaccessible when your body has easy sources of energy such as a Costco-sized bag of SkinnyPop.

In the morning, I have a tablespoon of organic coconut oil to tide me over (

it has lots of benefits

, including appetite suppression), and don't eat anything until the afternoon. Then, I'll have two simple meals within a 6-8 hour period.

#2 Eliminate all processed foods and starchy carbohydrates

The only exception I make to this is for frozen chicken and fish, and obviously the daily tablespoon of organic coconut oil mentioned in #1. Occasionally, if I can't stave off a sweets craving, I'll have a Fudgesicle (Healthy Choice brand). This cuts down on your sugar and salt intake, which both impact your health and weight dramatically.

Basically, limit yourself to lean meats, eggs, nuts, and vegetables. I eat all the greens and green vegetables I want (seasoned only with olive oil, lemon, kosher salt and pepper), but avoid root vegetables, legumes, fruits and other "natural" foods that fall into the carbohydrate category. This sounds hard, but is actually much easier to do when you think of trade outs. I love Thai food, but will replace my takeout rice with a salad base to stick to the rules.

#3 Cut liquid calories

I drink only water during the day, and allow two cups of coffee with a tiny bit of heavy cream (which has no carbohydrates) in the morning and two glasses of red wine at night. No soda, no beer, no margaritas.

#4 Do at least one weight training or HIIT morning workout 

For almost two years, I've been working out once-per-week with a personal trainer on Saturday mornings. There have been long stretches where that was the only workout I was getting, and it was enough. On Saturday mornings in my fasted state, I'll run a mile to warm up and then do 30-45 minutes of weights with my trainer. It burns fat, boosts my metabolism, and makes my muscles look great.

#5 Do at least one Bikram (or hot) yoga class

As a Bikram devotee, I am biased but truly believe that this form of yoga relieves stress, resets your appetite, sheds water weight, strengthens your muscles, and burns an incredible amount of calories in 90 minutes. However, I should mention that it is a MUST that you have eaten properly before class. If I'm trying to reset and get back in shape, I'll go to Bikram in the afternoon after eating a protein and green vegetable combo. If you haven't eaten properly (or at all), you'll feel very sick!

(Because I've been off track for awhile, my trainer suggested that I add a few cardio workouts in addition to my weights and yoga. I've been swimming laps once per week, and dragged myself to try spinning and rowing. While they may not become lifelong loves, it's doing the trick.)

If you've got any great strategies for getting back in shape, I'd love to hear them! Always trying to find easier ways to stay fit...

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